Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Return Engagements

I've always been of the school that says great experiences aren't repeatable. Your second trip to Disneyland can never be as magical as the first. And if you win the lottery, you should stop buying tickets.

Along those lines, the passengers on our boat last night chose to head back to the sites where we dove with manta rays and under the piers the other day. In the light of not-so-favorable conditions where we'd been diving, the group elected to bypass the signature dive site of the region in favor of sites that had given us great dives. The danger, of course, being that it might not be as good this time. Indeed, I mentioned to Jan last night that we could sit and wait for mantas with no luck, or find that the fish had abandoned the piers and a current was ripping through or something. Ever the optimist, no?

So we arrived early at Manta Sandy to check for favorable currents and such, planning to dive at 8:00 am. Of course, another boat shows up and drops their divers in at 7:30. So we rescheduled to 8:30, so as not to overcrowd the site.

At 8:30 we dropped in, and lo, there are mantas at the cleaning station already, and we had as many as six at a time swooping through for the next hour-and-a-half or more. Marvelous! As good as the first time, and maybe even better in some ways.

Getting back on our boat, we learned that the other boat that had jumped in ahead of us had waited 40 minutes before seeing any mantas, and then had only three. So we definitely got the best of that exchange! They were coming back to the site as we left, so maybe they had something good later.

Then on to the piers, where we dropped in and...no fish. Really. Just desolate. Ghost town. We poked around the reef for a while, finding some pretty nice fish and things, and eventually headed back to the piers. The anchovies had returned, as had the school of trevally jacks that like to hunt there. But no sign of the scads that were so plentiful the last visit.

On the plus side, someone found a little farm of giant tridachna clams (Jan counted 19 of them), including some quite large. Always nice to see big, healthy giant clams.

All in all, it was worth coming back. No great disappointments, and the mantas were at least as good the second time around. We were fortunate.

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